by Doug Hanson
The GFW extended communities will be asked to vote on a new school referendum on Tuesday, April 11. There are two questions on the ballot. Hopefully during the past two months residents have taken the time to be informed on the issues. One fact is certain, regardless of the outcome of the vote, taxes will increase.
The first question is a general obligation bond for $55 million for a new 7-12 school located in Gibbon. Passing this option would give the District a structure designed for more efficiency and more hands on instruction.
With the passing of this option, the Winthrop site would be closed.
If question 1 passes, the District residents will be asked if they want to have a preK thru 12 school constructed. The cost to include those grades would add $14,9 million to the project, making the total cost $69,900,000. This would put all pre-school through senior classes in one facility. The current Gibbon site would be closed. Question 2 can not pass unless Question 1 passes.
Where do I vote
The City of Winthrop and townships of Bismarck, Transit, Alfsborg and Penn will vote at the Winthrop Fire Hall (the site has been moved to make it more handicap accessible.) To vote enter through the north door.
The City of Gibbon and townships of Motlke, Severance, Cornish, Grafton, West Newton, Lafayette, Bernadotte and Round Grove will vote at the Gibbon Community Center. (Please note that Bernadotte and Round Grove townships were added to the Gibbon precinct since the last election.)
Please check the legal on page 10 for the Fairfax area and other voting information.
If both pass
If both questions pass, the GFW School Board has passed a resolution saying it would run a referendum in November to reduce the current operating levy. The Board is saying that with one site, there will be savings which they are willing to pass some of those savings to the taxpayers.
If Question 1 fails
If Question 1 does not pass, the Board has stated that it could levy $14 million a year for three consecutive years to begin to remodel the current sites. A portion of the remodeling project would qualify for the Ag2School credit. That remodeling levy will have up to a 15 year term while the 7-12 bond would be 25 years and preK-12 would be 29 years.
If question 1 passes, but question 2 does not, the fifth and sixth grades will be moved to the elementary building in Gibbon.
The Ag2School Credit currently sits at 70% for non-homestead ag land. This would translate into paying for approximately half the project costs. The Governor and the State Legislature has discussed increasing that precentage up to 80 to 100 percent. There is no guarantee that this credit will continue through the life of the bond, but it is currently a bi-partisan agreement.
While there is money in the plan for general playground equipment and practice fields for baseball, football, softball, etc., currently the plan for games is to use the baseball field in Fairfax and the track, football and softball fields in Winthrop. The plan is also for transportation to continue to use all three bus garages.
There has been no building floor plan presented or a sketch of what the building will look like. The administration stated that they wanted to wait until the outcome of vote to spend money on an architect. A list of what the building will house is on the GFW website. Also no building site has been finalized. The administration has indicated that there are three sites in Gibbon that could work.
The outcome of this vote will change the future of GFW. You are encouraged to take the time to vote.
by Doug Hanson